Should I Search For Homes on Zillow?


Do NOT trust “Zestimates.”

Maybe the Zestimate for your home’s value will be correct… I would say they are correct about 20% of the time by accident. The other 80% of the time, they are WRONG. Sometimes Zestimates are higher than your homes value, sometimes they are lower. I have seen them be off by $100,000 on a $300,000 home! Point being, there currently is no technology that can correctly assess a home’s value. It’s best to get a good realtor to give you a Broker Price Opinion for your home’s value and we are happy to provide those for people at any time. (Note: a Broker Price Opinion is NOT an appraisal, nor are realtors qualified to provide you with a home appraisal unless they are also a licensed appraiser.)

With that being said, we have also run into tons of problems with our clients shopping for homes on Zillow.

At Conscious Real Estate, we like to refer to Zillow (or it’s best friend, Trulia) as “The Heartbreaker.”  Why? Most often, when our clients find homes on Zillow or Trulia, the home has been under contract for quite awhile. We have seen numerous cases where the home has sold months prior. 

Here, we’ll break down what the MLS system is and how it is the only system to use when looking for your new home…

MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service and is endorsed by the National Association of Realtors. The system originated in the 1800’s when real estate agents would get together and share information on the properties that they had available.

Over time, more and more realtors joined the National Association of Realtors and as technology advanced over the last century, the service became digital.

Also over time, and with the advent on the Internet, also came commercial businesses trying to emulate the MLS by way of Trulia, Zillow and the many others out there. Unlike the MLS, Trulia, Zillow and are not regulated by any oversight such as the National Association of Realtors.

They are called “aggregate syndicators” in the industry because essentially, they are just media companies who take the legitimate information (and often copyrighted photos and more) from the MLS system and duplicate the listing on their site. The “suggested realtors” that appear on the sidebar for these properties are simply agents who are paying for advertising with them – not the agent on record and usually an agent who has no idea they are being suggested for that property – they simply showed up there due to the program’s marketing algorithms.

Additionally, realtors know they don’t have to follow the rules on Zillow.  If a realtor posts her listings on Zillow, she can leave it up for as long as she likes with no regulation.  Interested buyers will see this property, get excited, and call the realtor.

The realtor then informs the prospective buyer, “I’m so sorry. This home is under contract, but I can certainly help you find something similar.” See what she did there? She just got a new client from Zillow, by being sneaky. On the MLS, properties must have their status updated very quickly and realtors can’t play such reindeer games.

Further, these aggregate syndicators take listings from wherever they can find them. Take this case study for example from Geoffrey Shiering, a San Diego real estate agent and California broker:

“I’ve personally published a “house for sale” advertisement on Craigslist (a home that was not on the MLS), and in less than 24 hours the property description and photos that I’d posted on Craigslist were being displayed alongside my local San Diego MLS listings on Zillow. Anyone can publish anything on Craigslist, whether it’s real, fake, exaggerated, or a downright scam. And when Zillow displays unverified, junk information right alongside MLS listings, the public assumes that the junk is just as accurate as the MLS data.”

Unbelievable. So, before you spend all your time researching online, contact your local real estate agent and tell them what you’re looking for so that they can get you accurate, real-time listings and get you on track for that new home you’ve been longing for.

If you have any questions about the MLS or want to start getting notifications, contact us here and we’ll get in touch with you right away. Just let us know some of the details (how many baths, bedrooms, fenced yard, neighborhoods, open floor plan, price range etc.) and how often you want to receive notifications by email. You can choose from daily, weekly or monthly and can always change the frequency as well.

And, when you purchase a home with Conscious Real Estate, you will be making a positive impact on your community. We donate 10% of our own commission to a nonprofit of your choice. Find a home, make a difference – that’s the way we do business.


5 Tips for Selling Your Home in Denver in the Spring

potted plant, gardening tool, gloves, paint brush & paint can

Spring weather can be a challenge if you are selling your home in Denver. One day will be warm, the next day may bring snow. The weather may be windy, sunny, or both. As a seller, you need to take advantage of the season’s offerings to bring offers in.  This is time right before the market heats up and you want your home to stand out among the competition!

1)  First, it is time to begin taking care of your lawn – your lawn is the outdoor’s carpet. Landscaping makes a big difference when you are selling your home!  Hard rake, fertilize, and aerate your lawn now. Doing so will cost $75. The best time to do so are just before a spring snow, or during a warm period when you can water.  This brings us to the next point – water. Take advantage of the warmer days, and water your grass. It is not advisable to turn on a sprinkler system just yet, but a $10 oscillating sprinkler for 20 minutes will do the trick. (Don’t forget to unhook your hose when complete as to not freeze your pipes!) A great tip I learned is to use an organic green pigment to make your lawn seem greener than your neighbors. You can do this for mulch beds as well.

2)  Since the grass is dormant, now is a good time to edge the sidewalks and along the driveway, if edges along fences and concrete walkways and patios are neglected. Cut overgrowth now, and use a turkey baster to gently distribute spent cooking oil to prevent future weed and grass growth. Remember, do not let this oil come in contact with fences and plants as it might stain or kill.

3)  Revive your mulched garden by fertilizing and watering as you would with your lawn. To revive sun-bleached mulch, purchase an attachment for your hose diffuser. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, and shake regularly as you spray only the mulch. A leaf blower and a hose will remove dirt, debris, and revive rock beds.

4)  Colorado temperature extremes are also hard on concrete. Your local home improvement store will have caulk and concrete fillers that will preserve soil related cracks in cement stairs, patios, and driveways for less than $100.

5)  Finally, bring out the plants!  Temperature resistant plants like petunias can go in the ground, and less hardy tulips and lilies in your existing planters which can be covered or brought inside during the inevitable cold spell.

If you would like assistance with buying or selling your home in Colorado, please contact Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 to get started!  Remember, Conscious Real Estate always contributes 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of your choice.

7 Mistakes Home Sellers Make – What NOT to do when selling your home

3D render Depicting Declining Property Prices

1)  Home sellers want to put the home on the market before it’s ready.  Sellers become impatient, OR procrastinate and push themselves too close to the moving deadline without getting the pre-sale work done. So they list their home with the horrible carpet or they are painting it while it goes on the market. Presentation is everything — so get the work done before marketing the property.  Every realtor has had a buyer refuse to purchase a home because they didn’t like the paint, even though it’s a super easy fix!

 2)  Home Sellers over-improve the home for the neighborhood. This happens with additions, bump outs, and upgrades that make the home stick out from among its competitors so much that it’s an anomaly, instead of a nice addition to the community.  In less desirable neighborhoods, most buyers won’t care about the custom kitchen and hottub.  They want the desirable location, and will install their own features.

 3)  Home Sellers want to price the home based on what they wish to net. This pricing strategy usually ends in failure. Sellers can control the asking price, but they cannot control the sale price. The market does. It doesn’t matter what the seller wants, the price is determined by the black-and-white, matter-of-fact reality of the market.

 4)  Home Sellers may hire an agent based on non-business factors. Make sure you’re hiring a professional with a proven track record or at least is genuinely passionate to help you!  It might be nice to hand over your largest asset to your nephew who just got his license, but make sure his employing broker works closely with him to keep your deal from going south.

 5)  Home Sellers become emotionally involved in the sale of their home. This is one of the biggest challenges home sellers face when putting their house on the market. Once you decide to sell your house, it’s no longer your home, but a commodity. It needs to be prepared as a commodity, marketed as a commodity, and priced as a commodity. It doesn’t matter what you “want,” only what the market can bear on pricing. People are going to come in to kick the tires, so to speak, and you can’t take it personally if they don’t appreciate the charms that you have enjoyed in your home.

 6)  Home Sellers try to cover up problems, or not disclose them. Most states have a property disclosure/disclaimer form — use it wisely. Just because you disclaim doesn’t mean you cannot be sued for the leaky basement or the problematic plumbing system that’s discovered 30 days after settlement.

 7)  Home Sellers fail to get their ducks in a row before trying to sell. This could involve financing issues, not reading the fine print on your current mortgage to ensure no pre-payment penalties, not investigating their local market, etc.  If your local market is dictating lower home prices, then lower the price early, not later — it will cost you more. 

Avoid these seller mistakes and many others by choosing to work with a Conscious Real Estate agent when you sell your home. To contact one of our agents, call 303-908-9873 or email our owner, Allison Parks, at

Denver Housing Market – Summer 2013

The houses

As our much anticipated summer kicks off, the Denver housing has become increasingly hot! 

Anyone currently buying a home in the Denver market no doubt has noticed how quickly things are selling, with multiple offers being made and accepted within a day of two of listing.  Many recent home sales have sold above asking price as the result of bidding wars.  All of this is the result of an influx of new home buyers and a shortage of sellers within the local market.

Denver’s Chief Economist, Jeff Romine, reports that 12,250 new jobs were created in 2012, unemployment has dropped almost 2% since 2011, construction is on the upswing, and consumerism has shown significant evidence of an increase.  Oh yeah, and he reports that Denver’s housing market is among the strongest in the nation with home values up 8.3% from last year.  Yes, Denver’s economy has improved. 

In fact, Denver’s economy never took as hard a hit as many U.S. cities during the recession.  Couple this with the fact we have a fun, healthy city adjacent to the majestic Rocky Mountains attracting a population of active professionals, and it should be no surprise that housing demand has been on the rise. 

So… what does this mean for home buyers and sellers?

For buyers, “sleeping on it” may not be the best approach to deciding on whether to submit an offer on your dream home.  I have had recent experiences with clients who saw a home they loved only to have missed out on the opportunity by simply taking a night or two to think things over.  It is imperative to be pre-qualified for financing and have earnest money available to submit an offer immediately when the right home presents itself.  Buyers will also gain a huge benefit by having a realtor represent them who has access to industry databases that provide immediate updates with new listings and comparable sales data that may not be available on public sites.  To the extent that bidding wars have become commonplace, having a realtor advise you utilizing their familiarity with market statistics may also prove key in making a reasonable and successful offer.  Buyers should also be aware that mortgage rates have increased recently as a result of a strengthened national economy and that there is speculation the Federal Reserve Board is contemplating an increase to the prime rate, meaning that historically low interest rates could soon increase.

For sellers, the strengthened economy, increase in local housing demand and prices, and short supply has created the most seller-friendly environment Denver has seen in ages!  Yet not many people are selling their homes.  Perhaps Denver’s home-owners haven’t received the memo that housing prices have surged 10-20%, or remain hopeful they will continue to appreciate.  Maybe the recession has made people more cautious, so they are reluctant to sell and upgrade to a larger home and mortgage payment.  Maybe folks finally got the color of that accent wall right and they don’t want to mess with a good thing.  Whatever the case, prices have continued to rise and comparable statistics from recent sales over the year or so may not be applicable to current valuations, making it important that you work with a knowledgeable real estate professional.  It is also possible that rising housing prices could eventually plateau given the influx of new large scale construction occurring in the Denver metro area, such that increased housing prices may not continue indefinitely and there has never been a better time to sell.

If you are considering buying or selling, I’d look forward to discussing your situation and assisting you in any way possible. Please call Allison at 303-908-9873 or email